You’ve heard a lot about menopause symptoms, and because of what others have gone through, perhaps you’re already dreading it. Sometimes just dealing with these side effects can put your life on hold. But even though menopause can cause unpleasant symptoms, you can take action to reduce their impact so they don’t take over your life.
Lifestyle changes may be enough to tackle some of the issues you may experience. But sometimes, a conversation with your doctor is the best first step in finding effective treatment for certain symptoms of menopause, like changes in your vaginal health.
Firstly, you should know what’s going on in your body. A lot of women think menopause occurs when your periods start to become irregular or when you experience certain physical symptoms like hot flashes or interrupted sleep. But you’re only officially in menopause when it’s been twelve months since your last menstrual period.
For most women, the transition into menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, according to the National Institute on Aging. This transition phase, called perimenopause, usually lasts from seven to fourteen years. During this time, you may experience many of the symptoms of menopause or changes in your menstrual cycle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, perimenopause and menopause are both caused by a natural reduction in the amount of reproductive hormones in the body. Two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are produced in smaller and smaller quantities over the course of the perimenopausal transition. Eventually, your body stops making these hormones completely. The absence of both reproductive hormones triggers your ovaries to stop producing eggs, and you no longer have a menstrual cycle.
Symptoms to Expect
It’s impossible to predict exactly how your body will react to these hormone changes because every woman’s body is different. But the National Institute on Aging says there are several common menopause symptoms you should watch out for, including:
- Changes in your period or menstrual cycle
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal health concerns
- Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
- Interrupted sleep
- Changes in sexual habits or intimacy concerns
- Physical changes to your body, like weight gain and thinner skin
- Mood changes
It’s not unusual to feel irritable, depressed, or have crying spells during this time (even if you thought PMS was a thing of the past). While doctors aren’t exactly sure why these mood changes happen, it’s thought that several factors, like stress, tiredness, or family changes during this time, could be to blame.
Handling Menopause Like a Pro
While the symptoms of menopause may be uncomfortable and even overwhelming at times, a strong support system can help you find the relief you need to continue to lead your best life. That’s why it’s important to keep up communication and appointments with your gynecologist and/or doctor, and if you’re not already, seek out help from a mental health professional.
Beyond advising you on lifestyle adjustments that may make it easier to manage your symptoms, your doctor will also be able to help you tackle specific concerns, such as intimacy problems. Even though it can be uncomfortable to talk about, your doctor should be up-to-date on the latest medical treatments that can effectively relieve this distressing symptom and change your life for the better. One such option, MonaLisa Touch®, is used in your doctor’s office without anesthesia. The procedure delivers laser energy to your vaginal wall as a way to improve your vaginal health and help you renew intimacy in the bedroom.
Besides regularly seeing your doctor, certain home remedies can help with menopause symptoms, provided they aren’t too severe. For example, if you have trouble with hot flashes, avoid triggers like spicy foods or caffeine. If you feel a hot flash coming on, try drinking something cold or putting a chilled towel or washcloth around your neck. If you have trouble sleeping, meditation, breathing exercises, or regular physical activity could help you get some shut-eye. You can also buy specific incontinence products for bladder issues.
Menopause may seem like an insurmountable hurdle, but there’s hope for controlling your menopause symptoms so you don’t just get through menopause, but thrive during it. Certain lifestyle changes and medical treatments can help make you feel more like yourself in no time.